Category Archive: News

Vision Zero Update Part 1: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Seattle’s current progress on our Vision Zero goals. Vision Zero is Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

Yesterday, Sunday, November 17, 2019, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

We remember the millions of people killed and seriously injured on our streets as well as their families, friends, and communities. We also give thanks to the first responders and other people in emergency services who are faced with tragedy every day. This tremendous burden and loss is often seen as an inevitable byproduct of vehicular travel, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A montage of memorials left on the street where people were killed showing crosses, flowers, white cutout silhouettes, and white bicycles.

Memorials commemorating people killed by traffic violence on our streets.

Here in Seattle, we’re taking this opportunity to do a reality check on pedestrian safety on Seattle’s streets. And it’s not looking good.

Despite Seattle’s commitment to Vision Zero — the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 — we are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis. In the first 10 months of 2019 (January 1 – October 31), crashes on Seattle roads caused 17 fatalities and 118 serious injuries.

A large group of people gather on a sidewalk holding crosses and flowers at a memorial for Maria Banda.

Memorial gathering for Maria Banda.

Of those killed and seriously injured, there were 11 pedestrians and bicyclists killed and 70 serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. I’ll say that again: A total of 81 fatalities or serious injuries to the most vulnerable users on our streets in the first ten months of this year, when our goal is zero. The breakdown, for those curious, is 62 pedestrians and 23 bicyclists. Note that this is preliminary data, and may not be a full count, and that we still have a month and a half before the year’s end.

These statistics have real human impacts.

And we know that victims of traffic violence are disproportionately elders, people of color, and those of us with disabilities, low incomes or currently experiencing homelessness.

Vedrana Durakovic had this to say after Maria Lourdes Banda, a Latina elder, was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Lake City Way this fall:

“Maria Banda’s passing [after the hit and run on September 30, 2019] has been felt deeply in the community and among her family and friends. Maria was beloved by all of those who knew her, and her passing has left a gaping hole in the community. Her presence was one of calmness and kindness, and those who were fortunate to have interacted with and known Maria, particularly her husband Agustín, are heartbroken over the loss. Maria’s granddaughter also expressed her grief over the loss of her grandmother, noting that “She was always someone who remembered everyone.” 

“At the same time, the community has also been grappling with feelings of anger and frustration, not comprehending how anyone could leave two people so precious to us on the road, and drive off. And it wasn’t until we contacted Councilmember Debora Juarez did we hear that a police detective was finally assigned to the case on 10/9, as the police had not been aware that the hit and run had resulted in a fatality. Concurrently, [Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT had no knowledge up until that point that a fatality had occurred in the very spot the community had been asking for a crosswalk for years. 

“The community continues to feel Maria’s absence daily, seeking ways to commemorate her life and find comfort within the community which has demonstrated its strength, unity, and love.”

Jesse Gurnett's mother stands on the side of the street holding a photo of her son after he was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street.

Jesse Gurnett’s mother holding a photo of her son on the street where he was hit by a car and killed.

Our city streets are designed for speed, rather than safety. Remember that individual people making individual decisions designed our city to be this way, and we can make the choice to design it differently. And that these decisions have real impacts: four of the eleven fatalities took place in District 5, Seattle’s far north, which is notoriously devoid of sidewalks or safe places to walk, even along major transit routes and arterial streets.

A woman with three kids push a stroller along a street surrounded by cars. There is no sidewalk and they walk between a ditch and moving traffic.

The map below highlights the 100 intersections in Seattle with the highest number of collisions (2006-present). Seattle’s most dangerous street, Rainier Ave, averages a collision every day, and is clearly highlighted.

Map of the top 100 locations in Seattle with the most traffic collisions.

Click here to view interactive version of this map.

What Next?

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways volunteers are working every day on projects across the city to make it safer for people to walk and bike in Seattle. Sometimes this looks like new sidewalks, crosswalks, or other safe places for people to walk. Sometimes it looks like safe bike routes for people of all ages and abilities. Sometimes it looks like major policy shifts in the way our city evaluates our streets, or maintains our existing infrastructure. Our city is currently built for cars, but we can change that.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll lay out our ideas for the City to get Vision Zero back on track!

 

Special Thanks to volunteers Lee Bruch and Tim Ganter for tracking and visualizing data and holding the City accountable to Vision Zero goals.

Back to School!

It’s Back to School season! How are the kids in your life getting to and from school?

Did you know that 58% of students in the Seattle Public Schools District live within the school walk zone and are not served by school bus routes, yet only 30% of them walk and bike?

Particularly in schools with dangerous streets nearby, many parents who have the means to do so make the decision to drive their kids to school every day. The increase in vehicle traffic around the school leaves those kids who do not have the option, disproportionately low-income kids and people of color, in even more dangerous conditions.

Here at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we believe that every child deserves to be able to walk or bike to school safely and comfortably. 

If that’s your take too, we invite you to join our Safe Routes to School campaign! Click here to send a note to your elected leaders in support of Safe Routes to School, and keep updated on the citywide campaign!

AdjaAndDaughters

This year, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is working to address some systemic problems with both the Seattle Public Schools District and the Seattle Dept. of Transportation, including policies and processes in school planning, lack of communication, insufficient staff, and lack of funding.

We’re also building relationships with 10 focus schools: Bailey Gatzert Elem., John Rogers Elem., Lafayette Elem., Sacajawea Elem., West Woodland Elem., Wing Luke Elem., Mercer International Middle, Franklin High, Rainier Beach High, and Roosevelt High. We’re listening to school communities and learning what’s needed, what’s working and what isn’t. If you’d like to hear more or get involved in engagement with one of these school communities, email Clara@SeattleGreenways.org.

Speak up for Sidewalks and Schoolkids!

Thanks to your ongoing advocacy, the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, of which Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a part, included Safe Routes to School funding in the MASS Transportation Package. If it passes through City Council, we will have funding for an Active Transportation Coordinator to manage several currently ignored programs and processes, including the walking and biking school bus program and the School Crossing Guard program, which currently has vacant positions at one in three schools.

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We Need You!

  • Sign up here to receive updates on the campaign.
  • Share information with families and community members at your children’s school. Check out this one-pager.
  • Support funding for Safe Routes to School in the City of Seattle budget by sending an email to the Seattle City CouncilUse this form to support the MASS Coalition asks, or draft your own email to council@seattle.gov.
  • Send an email to your School Board Director highlighting transportation as an issue and Safe Routes to School as a solution. Find your director here. Several of the School Board Directors are up for re-election this fall — email candidates and attend forums to make sure that candidates know that you care about making sure kids are safe when walking and biking to school.
  • Spread the word about vacant School Crossing Guard positions in your neighborhood. These positions are paid, neighborhood-based, green jobs, perfect for those seeking local, part-time work.

KidsGroupWalking

Thank you for your advocacy!

Be well,
Clara

claraClara Cantor

she/her/hers
(206) 681-5526
Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

Fun and Safe Ways to Walk or Bike to School!

Are you looking to encourage your child and their friends to walk or bike to school this school year (and beyond)? Consider organizing a walking school bus or a bike train!

 

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A walking school bus — what is that?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school together with one or more adults, or older students. It can be structured in many ways, but is most commonly a route with designated meeting points and a schedule of parents or volunteers who take turns walking the group to school.

What’s a bike train?

Similarly, a bike train is a group of children who bike to school together, accompanied or led by one or more adults, or older students. Bike train leaders should have some bicycling skills, understand traffic laws and feel comfortable riding on the road.

What are the benefits of a walking school bus and a bike train?

Studies show that fewer children walk to school today than even just a few decades ago, and many children don’t meet recommended daily levels of physical activity. For many parents, safety concerns are one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk or bike to school.

The walking school bus and bike train models are safety-first, by design. But they’re also fun, social, and active ⁠— providing school age children with easy, comfortable access to a healthy lifestyle, as well as improved skills for walking and pedaling safely in the city. Parents benefit too ⁠— they get to enjoy greater piece of mind knowing that their children are being protected by ‘safety in numbers’ as well as the presence of adult supervision.

There’s a terrific community-building aspect to these models as well. With a rotating schedule of parents or volunteers coordinating together to lead the walking school bus or bike train, it can be a great opportunity for people to meet other families in their neighborhood.

Did we emphasize “fun” enough? A walking school bus or bike train is a delightful daily activity ⁠— for both the kids and adults involved. Give it a try! And share your experience with us ⁠— contact Clara with your walking or biking to school stories: clara@seattlegreenways.org

 

Kids Crossing

 

Tips for organizing a walking school bus:

  • Check out your neighborhood walkability checklist, and the City of Seattle’s Safe Routes to School Walking Maps. Determine the safest route to walk to your school and map your route, including what stops are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to walk, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, other community leaders).
  • Test your route, noting approximate walking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise walkers and draft a rotating schedule. Download walking school bus leader schedules and information forms, and recruit volunteers.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine what’s needed for both kids and adult volunteers on your route before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

A group of smiling kids riding bicycles down the street.

 

Tips for organizing a bike train:

  • Determine safe routes for biking to school with a City of Seattle Bike Web Map, and draft a potential route, including the stops that are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to bike, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, local bike shops, bike teams/clubs, other community leaders).
  • Pick a route and do a test bike ride, noting approximate biking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise bikers and draft a rotating schedule. Check out these scheduling tips for bike train leaders and other guides.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine the safety training, skills and equipment needed for kids and bike train leaders before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

 

Happy walking and biking!

Li Tan Portrait

Written by Li Tan,
Safe Routes to School Intern
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Big Wins This Month in City Council for the MASS Coalition! Next Steps 9/30

MASS SNG

BIG WINS!

Thanks to your advocacy, the first three pieces of the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Transportation Package passed UNANIMOUSLY through City Council!

We have the energy and momentum to pass the remainder of the package by the end of the year — Save the Date for our next big push on Monday, September 30, 2:00pm for several important policy improvements for people walking and rolling. This second set of policies sailed through committee on September 20th, and will come to a full City Council vote on the 30th!

Champions:

Huge thanks to Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Abel Pacheco, and Teresa Mosqueda for sponsoring these three critical pieces of the MASS Transportation Package, and to the rest of the council for voting to pass them! Thank them at:  Council@Seattle.gov (email) or @SeattleCouncil (Twitter)

What passed:

  1. A Bicycle Safety Ordinance making it harder for politicians to delay or delete bike projects.
  2. A resolution requesting full funding for Bicycle Implementation Plan projects, including the Beacon Ave Trail, Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail, the SODO-to-Georgetown connection, and two-way bike lanes on 4th Ave downtown.
  3. A resolution requesting that SDOT build off-sidewalk bike and scooter parking (in-street bike corrals) to ensure pedestrian access on sidewalks, especially for those of us with disabilities.

We’re not done yet.

We packed the council chambers and sent hundreds of emails, and together we showed the strength of community support behind sustainable transportation measures. Then, following the Climate Strike on September 20th, we filled council chambers again and spoke out passionately for safer sidewalks and pedestrian-first signal-timing. This second set of MASS Transportation Package policies were approved in committee. And now they move to a full council vote.

We need you on Monday, September 30, at 2:00pm as these important pedestrian policy improvements move to a full council vote. It’s people-power — your voice, your presence, your mailed in comments, that can move these policies over the finish line. 

Email the Mayor and Councilmembers now to show your support.

 

The MASS Transportation Package – Safe & Equitable Transportation for All

These are the first of twelve total pieces of the MASS Transportation Package — which includes policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that will help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently. Find out more about the package in this interview.

We need to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, create walkable and roll-able communities, and ensure safe and equitable access to transportation for all people, particularly for those who have been historically and are currently under-served. Please support the MASS Transportation Package.

Take Action:

 

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her/hers

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

What is the MASS Transportation Package?

Clara Gordon Susan interview pic

Susan Gleason, SNG’s Communications & Development Director recently sat down with Gordon Padelford and Clara Cantor  to learn more about the MASS Transportation Package they’ve been working on.

 

Susan: Fill me in. What is the MASS Transportation Package?

Gordon: It’s a really exciting package of policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that we are working with our allies to pass before the end of the year.  

 

Susan: So, what’s in it specifically?

Clara: Hah, a lot! For biking there are three pieces. First, as people may remember, the mayor’s latest bike plan leaves many critical bike routes connecting SE Seattle and SODO unfunded. This package calls for finding new, non-regressive sources of revenue, such as a tax on Lyft and Uber rides, to build those routes. 

The second piece was inspired by a Cambridge, Massachusetts ordinance which requires repaving projects to include any planned bike lanes except in rare circumstances. It will also require SDOT to present more holistic information to the public during outreach processes, rather than just how different street designs might slow down drivers — which in our experience has led to some bad decisions. So, moving forward we hope this will give everyone better information to work with. 

Third, it will require SDOT to get its act together around bike route maintenance. We know a lot of SNG volunteers have noticed bike lanes disappearing if lanes are not repainted at the same time as the car lanes are getting repainted, or if protected bike lane posts get hit by vehicles. That’s a policy failure. 

 

Susan: Is there a piece in there about bike and scooter parking, as well?

Clara: Yes, we’ve been working with Lime, disability rights advocates, and Councilmember Abel Pacheco to come up with a bike and scooter parking solution that works better for everyone. You might have seen the op-ed in the Seattle Times about that. Basically, we are proposing that the city build thousands of new bike and scooter parking spaces on the street, near street corners where car parking isn’t permitted. This will keep our sidewalks clear, give people more places to park, and also improve sightlines for people crossing the street. It’s a win-win-win.

 

Susan: What’s in there for better walkability?

Gordon: There are four components for pedestrians. The first one calls on the city to find additional funding to build sidewalks and safe places to walk like Home Zones, so that people don’t have to wait multiple centuries to be able to safely walk to the bus stop, the store, etc.  

But even when sidewalks are built we have to recognize that they aren’t always accessible, and in fact, the city has found something like 150,000 sidewalk hazards — ranging from cracks that people could trip on to overgrown vegetation. We’ve seen other cities, like Denver, approach this accessibility issue in a much more comprehensive way, so we’re asking the city to improve their program. 

We’re also advocating for a better traffic signals policy, so people don’t have to wait so long to cross the street, don’t have to push “beg buttons,” and other tweaks that will make it safer and more convenient for people to cross the street. It sounds basic, but it really will make a big difference to people’s experience walking around Seattle. 

Last, but definitely not least, we are advocating for funding for an Active Transportation Coordinator position for the Seattle School District. Right now ⅓ of the school crossing guard jobs are vacant and few schools have “walking school bus” programs. This position was recommended by the School Traffic Safety Committee, and we believe it will help bring new energy to these programs and make it safer for kids to walk to school across the city. It’s another small thing that we believe will have a big impact.  

 

Susan: Wow, that’s a lot!

Gordon: Hah, yeah, there’s a reason why we’re calling it the nation’s best transportation package! There is also a whole section of improvements for transit — bus lanes and spot improvements to make public transit fast, reliable, and efficient.

 

Susan: Who will this benefit?

Clara: Well, everyone. For people who are already walking, biking and taking transit, which is disproportionately people of color and low-income folks, this will make getting around Seattle vastly safer, more comfortable, and more efficient. For folks who don’t currently walk, bike, and take transit very much it will give them more options to get around. 

 

Susan: So how will it impact people in their daily lives?

Gordon: Great question. Each piece of the package that is passed will have a really positive impact. For instance, getting a better sidewalk repair program will mean fewer people trip and fall and injure themselves. People in South Beacon Hill will have a trail that opens up a new healthy and affordable transportation option that they haven’t had access to before. People walking along Greenwood Ave in north Seattle will no longer have to squeeze between dumpsters and fast moving traffic to catch the bus. People walking home from work won’t have to wait so long for the walk light and will be able to get to their families more quickly. And I could go on. This will make such a big difference, on so many fronts, it’s impossible to list them all! 

 

Susan: What kind of impact will this have on affordability and stabilizing communities? 

Gordon: We have to make sure that anything we’re building has adequate community engagement so that improvements can reflect the needs of the people who live there — one great example is the Georgetown to South Park Trail, which has incredible community support and input, right from the beginning of the process. And while we know providing affordable transportation options is important [Editor’s note: transportation is the second largest household cost after housing], we also need to see an increase in affordable housing and middle class housing construction so that everyone can benefit and stay as our city grows and evolves. 

 

Susan: Where did these ideas come from?

Clara: We’ve been working on these issues for years, we’re just now wrapping them together into an all-inclusive package. For instance, our campaign to get a better signals policy for Seattle has been years in the making — first identified by neighbors frustrated by specific traffic signals in their communities, who then led numerous walks with community members and elected officials, published articles, and now we’ve gained a lot of attention and are making moves. 

 

Susan: Who is supporting the MASS Transportation Package?

Clara: We’ve been doing a lot of the behind the scenes work to get it ready and have been collaborating with our allies in the MASS Coalition which is made up of organizations focused on the environment, transportation, and disability rights. 

Gordon: And, some components of the package have additional supporters as well. For instance the piece calling on the city to create a better sidewalk maintenance program has support from AARP and Sound Generations, who are helping collect personal stories about why it’s so important for everyone, but especially older adults, to have safe and accessible sidewalks. 

 

Susan: What has the reception been like at City Hall and at SDOT?

Clara: It’s been very positive so far — these are known issues and ones that people in all parts of our local government would like to try and fix. 

Gordon: Yeah, as often is the case, this is about making the “right thing to do” the “easy thing to do.” Overcoming the inertia of the status quo is tough. That’s why we’ve been laying the groundwork by doing the background research and policy development needed to make it as easy as possible for our elected leaders to pick up the baton and get these ideas over the finish line.  

 

Susan: What is your biggest worry about passing these pieces of legislation?

Clara: The timing. We are trying to pass a huge amount of legislation before the end of the year, and in September the city budget discussions start taking up all of the City Council’s time, pretty much until December. So, we need everyone to speak up now and let city council know that this is a high priority and they need to get this done [Editor’s note: Click here to send a message to your elected leaders]. 

 

Susan: What gives you hope for this effort? 

Clara: Our amazing volunteers. 

Gordon: Absolutely, and we also couldn’t do it without our allies, and I also want to give a shout out to Clara who has been doing an incredible amount of the behind-the-scenes organizing around the policy development. 

 

Susan: Last question, what should people do if they have more questions or want to get involved?

Clara: People can check out the policy brief, which has one-pagers for each piece of legislation [click here], or they can email me [Clara@seattlegreenways.org] to get more involved. And don’t forget to send a message to the Mayor and City Council to urge their support! [Click here to send a message to your elected leaders]

Act now to pass the nation’s best transportation package!

MASS SNG

Get Ready for Action to Move All Seattle Sustainably!

We’ve been waiting years to pass legislation this exciting. We don’t know what the Seattle City Council will look like next year, so we’re working with allies to pass the nation’s best transportation package now — see below for more details. You can make it happen.

Please take a moment to send the Mayor and Seattle City Council an email asking them to support the MASS Transportation package.

The MASS Transportation Package includes policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that will help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently.

For our climate, public health, and equity, our city urgently needs:  

  • Faster and more reliable buses: How often is your bus stuck in gridlock? This package calls for a robust network of bus priority corridors connecting Seattle’s neighborhoods to make public transit fast, reliable, and efficient.
  • Convenient and comfortable bike connections: Seattle doesn’t currently have safe, efficient bike routes connecting SE Seattle and SODO to the rest of the city. This package will fund and build these key connections, improve maintenance of existing bike lanes, and make it harder for the city to cancel planned bike lanes.
  • Accessible and safe sidewalks and crosswalks: Our sidewalks are crumbling, our signals too often prioritize cars over everyone else, and, at the current funding rate, it will take hundreds of years to build sidewalks where they are missing. This package will enhance the sidewalk repair program, build more sidewalks along dangerous streets, adopt a signals policy that puts people first, keep sidewalks clear of obstructions, and help ensure that our kids have safe routes to school.

We need to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, create walkable and roll-able communities, and ensure safe and equitable access to transportation for all people, particularly for those who have been historically and are currently underserved. Please support the MASS Transportation Package 2019

Please take a moment to send the Mayor and Seattle City Council an email.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Best part of my bike commute? The smells.

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By Tom Lang, co-leader of Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets

 

One of the best parts of commuting by bike is whizzing past a long line of cars stuck in traffic. I love that. But—hands down⁠—⁠the very best part of my commute is the smells.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, my commute from the far side of Fremont to the U District was along the Burke Gilman Trail⁠—a safe, comfortable and flat bike ride. Some mornings, I would get to see a sunrise over Lake Washington, framed by the Aurora Bridge. Most afternoons, I saw rollerbladers, joggers, and families outside enjoying the day.

 

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops …

 

I also passed by the Theo Chocolate Factory and Fremont Brewing. On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops being turned into delicious beers. Most days, it was the highlight of my day.

The North Seattle Transfer Station was also on the route, so I also enjoyed whiffs of garbage and stinky things. But for most of the five years between 2011 and 2016, the Transfer Station was closed for renovation. And the re-opened station does a much better job of containing the trash smells.

 

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I recently traded in my commute for a downtown slog, through traffic and past parked cars, up hills and into Little Saigon. But, here too, there are smells to be grateful for. I pass the Tsue Chong fortune cookie factory in the morning (that distinctively  sweet smell reminding me of birthday dinners past) and several blocks of Vietnamese restaurants, with mouth-watering aromas of garlic and fish sauce. On the way home, I pass Pagliacci Pizza, where I try to forget about all the other surrounding smells of diesel and oil and just…focus…on…the…pizza for at least a few minutes each day.

 

Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute?

 

I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in appreciating the smells of my commute. Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute? What kinds of things am I missing out on? Where should I move to in order to maximize my convenience-to-smelliness ratio? I NEED TO KNOW.

MASS Coalition hosts Seattle City Council Candidate Forums ⁠— Video and Transcripts now available

A crowded room of people sitting facing a panel of candidates at the front of the room.

The Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, of which Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a part, hosted five forums recently, asking candidates for Seattle City Council tough questions about transportation, housing, and sustainability.

You can watch the forums or read transcripts here, with special thanks to Rooted in Rights and Disability Rights Washington, or find a general summary of the five forums here from the Urbanist. (Don’t know which district is yours? Find it here.)

The primary election will take place on August 6 (register to vote or update your mailing address by July 29). The top two candidates will advance to the November 5 general election. Because Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a 501c3, we are unable to make candidate endorsements, but we encourage everyone to educate themselves on the issues they care about. Don’t forget to VOTE!

MASS

MASS (Move All Seattle Sustainably) is a coalition of organizations and advocates working to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, achieve Vision Zero, make Seattle carbon-neutral, create walkable communities, and ensure equitable access to transportation for all people.

Community mourns death of Jesse Gurnett and looks for solutions on Lake City Way

Article written by Janine Blaeloch, a leader with Lake City Greenways, SNG’s local chapter in the neighborhood. 

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Candy holds a picture of her son Jesse.

 

On March 29, 2019, 32-year-old Jesse Gurnett, a lifelong Lake City resident, was struck by a speeding driver in the crosswalk at NE 127th Street and Lake City Way—on his way home, and just steps away from Value Village, where he worked. Jesse died the next day, devastating his family and friends. Loved by co-workers and customers for his unflagging positive attitude and his dancing skills (including an uncanny Michael Jackson dance impression) he is sorely missed in Lake City and beyond.

 

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In collaboration with Jesse’s family, Lake City Greenways and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organized a gathering on June 22 to memorialize Jesse and to honor him through a legacy of street safety for the community he left behind. We gathered at the main plaza in Lake City for some words from family and friends, then walked the intersection where Jesse lost his life—bearing signs saying “Stop for Jesse,” “Brake for Humans,” “Families Crossing,” and other reminders for drivers passing through.

 

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Then we walked to a nearby church basement to talk about problems and solutions around pedestrian safety on Lake City Way, a state highway that is also our neighborhood street. Speed was on everyone’s mind; had the driver who hit Jesse been obeying the posted speed limit of 30 rather than an estimated 45 mph, the two might have seen each other—or Jesse might have survived his injuries.

 

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Ideas and aspirations sprang forth, and a plan began to take shape for bringing speed down to 20 mph in the commercial core of Lake City through both a speed-limit reduction and streetscape design. A Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) will also be proposed for the intersection where Jesse was hit and others nearby; LPIs give people a few seconds lead time with a “walk” signal before cars are allowed to go.

 

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 Jason & child, relatives of Jesse.

 

Amplifying the passion of Jesse’s family and friends and the commitment of the Lake City community, we are confident that with energy and a strategic approach we will secure improvements on Lake City Way that will honor Jesse’s memory and his parents’ wish that his death will not have been in vain.

If you want to get involved with making safer streets in Lake City, email Clara@seattlegreenways.org.

Bicycle Implementation Plan Update: Good Project List, Incomplete Funding

The mayor’s latest bicycle plan adds critical projects, but leaves them unfunded. Join us at the Ride4SafeSteets this Sunday, and send a letter to elected officials to call for completing the network.

Act Now! button

At the end of April, the Mayor released a draft 2019-2024 Bicycle Implementation Plan outlining projects to be built through the end of the Move Seattle Levy. The plan drastically cut the connected network that the original Levy promised to voters, and the community responded.

In hundreds of emails sent to city officials, letters from advisory and oversight boards, and at outreach events conducted across the city, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) heard two resounding calls —

  1. We want safe routes from SE Seattle to the rest of the city, and
  2. We want the network to be connected — no more building infrastructure with missing gaps where people riding bikes are thrown out into dangerous intersections or stretches of roadway. If we’re spending money to build safe routes, they need to connect to each other.

Now, the City has released the final version of the Bicycle Implementation Plan. Our summary: Good project list, incomplete funding. Join us at the Ride4SafeSteets this Sunday, and send a letter to elected officials to call for action.

A group of smiling kids riding bicycles down the street.

The Good

Because you spoke up, the City added a list of important projects that will be built if more funding becomes available, including North-South routes which would connect SE Seattle to downtown on Beacon Ave S and MLK Jr Way S, and a safe connection from SODO to Georgetown, which would provide safe access to thousands of blue collar jobs.

Additionally, the plan fully funds a route on a short section of MLK Way connecting from Mt. Baker station to the I-90 trail, and retains important projects providing safe places to bike on Eastlake Ave E, Green Lake Way, Delridge Way SW, Pike/Pine (and other parts of the Basic Bike Network), Thomas St, and the Burke Gilman Trail Missing Link.

These are big wins — thank you for speaking up.

A joyful crowd of people in rain ponchos ride on a protected bike lane.

The Bad

Unfortunately, because the plan does not commit to fund and build the critical connections through South and South East Seattle and SODO. Also, apparently partly because of a lack of funds, the long planned and delayed downtown 4th Ave route has been downgraded from a two-way protected bike lane to a one-way (northbound).

We must make it clear to our elected leaders that these routes are not optional.

 

A group of people with helmets and bikes hold signs calling for safety and Vision Zero.

Next Steps

In her cover letter, Mayor Durkan states that “we are committed to delivering the bike safety projects included in this plan,” and “we will continue seeking additional revenue sources and grants to advance these key connections.”

We all need to work together to secure funding for these projects, to create the connected, comfortable network of safe routes for people to bike throughout Seattle that we all support. There are numerous options for generating additional funding for safe streets projects including a rideshare tax, commercial parking tax, or impact fees, all of which need careful consideration to ensure they can be implemented equitably. It will be up to our elected leaders to find a way to fund these projects, but it is up to all of us to let them know that we care.

Here’s three things you can do, right now:

  • Join us at the Ride4SafeSteets this Sunday to call on our elected leaders to fund and build these critical routes.
  • Send a letter to the Mayor, City Council, and SDOT thanking them for including the projects and pushing for funding them.
  • Ride your bike, and bring a friend! More people out enjoying the sunny weather on bikes means more safety and visibility for everyone.

A woman with dark hair rides a lime bike down a tree-lined street.

Thank you for your advocacy!

A headshot of Clara CantorClara Cantor

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

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